New Illinois Child Support Law Establishes How to Deal with High and Low Incomes


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Illinois adopted a law, effective July 1, 2017 that changed how child support is to be calculated. The state now uses an income sharing method of determining how much child support should be ordered. There is also important key information that parents should understand about deviating from these guidelines.

Income Sharing Method

This method of calculating child support looks at the income from both parents and applies a formula to determine the guideline amount of child support. The amount of the parentsí incomes is added together and compared to the guideline chart to determine how much support is necessary for the number of children. This support is then apportioned between the parents.
After these calculations, this is the base child support amount. This amount of support is presumed to be the proper amount of support.

Deviation Standards

In some situations, parents can deviate from this amount of support. For example, the court can deviate from this amount of support when the incomes are very high or very low. The courts may use the following process when deviating from the guidelines for these reasons:

Determining Potential Income

In some instances, a parent may be unemployed or underemployed. The child support statute allows the court to set an amount of support based on a parentís potential income. The court considers various factors to determine this amount, including the parentís former employment, work history, earning history, job qualifications, potential job opportunities and ownership in assets. The court can also consider the earning levels in the area.

Sometimes a parent may have a lack of work history because of his or her age, life decisions or being a stay-at-home parent. In these situations, the Illinois child support guidelines allow the court to use a rebuttable presumption that the parentís potential income is 75 percent of the federal poverty guidelines for a single person.

Additionally, the current Illinois child support guidelines presume that the minimum amount of child support should be $40 per month per child. However, this amount is only for those individuals who have potential income that is less than 75 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. Additionally, the new law says that the maximum amount of child support for a person at this income level is $120 a month, which should be split between both parents.

High Incomes

The child support guidelines are geared toward the average child and family. However, there are mechanisms in place to calculate support for parents with higher incomes. The new child support law allows courts to use their discretion in determining how much child support to order. It can consider the resources and incomes of both parents, their standard of living and the childís needs. In any event, the amount should not be less than the highest amount on the child support guidelines.

A court may deviate from the child support guidelines if the amount of support on the guidelines would create a windfall to the other parent, would exceed the support needed by the child or would result in support that would exceed the amount of support that would be greater than the amount of support the child would have had if the parents had stayed together.

Other Times to Deviate from the Child Support Guidelines

The court may also deviate from the child support guidelines in other circumstances other than when the parent has a low or high income. For example, it can deviate from the child support guidelines when there are high medical expenses for the child, the child has special needs or other factors allow for deviation from the child support guidelines.

Another type of deviation that a court may make is if the custodial parent is a high-income earner and the obligated parent is a low-income earner. In this type of situation, the court may determine that the higher-income earner does not need the funds from the lower-income earner and that the obligation would burden the lower-income earner would unnecessarily burden the lower-income earner. In this type of situation, the judge may decide not to award child support at all.

Contact an Illinois Family Law Lawyer for Assistance

If you would like assistance in obtaining or defending against child support, it is important that you understand your rights and how child support is calculated in Illinois. An Illinois family law lawyer can explain the new law, how low or high incomes can affect the calculation of child support and situations when the court can deviate from the child support guidelines.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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